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Same Sex Marriages Are Now Legal In Colorado; Clerks To Issue Marriage Licenses

Daniel Noffsinger - Friday, October 10, 2014

In a long-awaited decision for same-sex couples throughout Colorado, the Colorado Supreme Court lifted a stay preventing county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Colorado’s decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals on in other federal circuits regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in other states.

Colorado’s 2006 voter ban on gay marriage

The decision to permit same-sex marriages in Colorado comes nearly a decade after voters approved Colorado Amendment 43—a referendum to Colorado’s constitution to define marriage as only a union between one man and one woman.

In July 2014, a Colorado District Court held that Colorado’s state ban on gay marriages was unconstitutional. The judge, however, stayed the ruling to “avoid the instability and uncertainty which would result" without a stay.

County clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Colorado county clerks are now permitted to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced, “[t]here are no remaining legal requirements that prevent same-sex couples from legally marrying in Colorado.”

Same-sex couples may obtain marriage licenses from any of Colorado’s 65 county clerks. In addition, same-sex couples may also register their marriage records through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

What does this mean for same-sex married couples?

Same-sex couples had some, but not all, of the same rights as married couples of the opposite sex. With Colorado's Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act in 2009, same-sex couples could put in writing that a couple had the ability to make decisions regarding each other’s health care and estate administration and treatment in medical emergencies, during incapacity, and at death.

Also, with Colorado’s Civil Union Act in 2013, same-sex couples were afforded many of the same protections as married couples of the opposite sex, such as the right to inherit property, the right to receive financial support, the right to transfer real and property, and the right to adopt a child. These laws, however, did not provide same-sex couples all of the same rights as married couples of the opposite sex.

With the stay lifted, same-sex couples are now able to enjoy many of the same benefits that were previously available only to married couples of the opposite sex, such as health insurance benefits.

Furthermore, same-sex married couples in Colorado can take advantage of certain federal tax benefits. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Colorado, these same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes.

Contact a Colorado Springs Marriage Attorney

If you have any questions regarding same-sex marriages in Colorado or other questions concerning the rights of same-sex couples, an experienced Colorado family and marriage attorney can help you with this process. Noffsinger law is experienced advising couples on matters relating to same-sex marriages and other family issues, including pre- and post-nuptial agreements, property distribution and planning considerations, and divorce.

Contact Noffsinger Law today to see how we can help you. We provide experienced representation and personal service, hands-on service to help you feel comfortable.